This is a review of the AMT 1969 Pontiac Firebird T/A 400 #8583

Unlike some other kits of awesomeness, this one could blip out of existence and I’d be fine. AMT/MPC is the only maker of this car, so I am forced to undertake this abomination. It is missing the rear-view mirror, side mirror, the tires are rubbish, and that’s just the start.

The above kits are slight differences to the Trans Am kit above. I don’t remember which of the above kits have the T/A decals – may just be #2. I have found them to be yellowed and haphazard when I’ve found them. The decal sheet in my kit were respectable. The fit and finish of these kits are ALL crap.

CAR BACKGROUND :: The Firebird was Pontiac’s image of the pony-car taken directly from the Camaro. For 1969, however, the Bird and Camaro went their separate ways. The Camaro was building on it’s superstar legacy while Pontiac was re-imagining the Firebird. Considered by some as a dullard, sales went down instead of up. It did come with a wonderful 400ci, Ram Air V8 with up to 345 horsepower. Mated to a 4-speed, this bird was more a phoenix with 0-100 coming in a brisk 14 seconds. Decent sheet-metal, and glowing performance aside, this iteration lasted just one year (like the AMT model should have).

BUILD NOTES : As I’ve said, the AMT Firebird kits are terrible. I am specific because not ALL AMT kits are atrocious. I just built a 67 Impala that was quite good. This one is not. The fit of the front grille insert is tricky. It wants to push the top of the front-end up so careful trimming is necessary. You also must check the fit before painting or risk trim/bending after a nice paint job. The hood, like other AMT kits (including a ’69 Barracuda I just built) is only a fit in as much as it fits the hole. I wish I could make it fit better, but it just doesn’t. The taillights are an odd fit, the Magnum wheels are mediocre compared to Revell kits, and the flash removal can make you cross-eyed. This is also not a true 2-in-1 car even though there is the T/A and 400 setups. There are decals and hoods to differentiate the two, but little else. There are also no real “street” items to make this unique. It is “stock” or.. it is “stock”.

This is a horrible engine bay all the way round. There is very little detail; the master cylinder is small and molded; there is way too much space; and the wheel wells have no detail. It is barren. I added a 400-4 barrel decal and a caution fan to help brighten things, but this is just crying for add-ons. At least it had a battery.

In all honesty, I have not made this car but twice and the last time was some twenty years ago. I picked Tamiya’s Electric Blue Metallic because the original one I made was also blue. This one came out much nicer, but it would be better if the kit were. I used the “400” hood instead of the T/A as I’m not a fan of the white and blue eyesore. The T/A hood also is molded where the holes are and to paint “holes” that large would look really bad.

For as lackluster as the interior is , this one looks pretty good. The sunk in gauges make them impossible to see from outside and the dash is not very detailed. That said, a brighter color than black will make this one palatable. I had to add a shifter (as the one included was awful), and a rear-view mirror. Door detail is below average as well, but the blue color helps.

Underneath you will find a whirlwind of ho-hum. There is very little detail and even the exhaust looks awful. The fit to the engine is poor, the detail around the axle is bad, and the exhaust end in an ugly stump. I added tips, but there is little you can do to help this aspect of the car.

I’d like to say “run right out and buy one”, but I really can’t. Pontiac model cars are few and far in between, so getting this one may be a necessity for you. It will almost always cost you over $20 as they are getting fewer in number all the time. The kits can be problematic too with bad chrome, poor fit, and scratched glass. They aren’t bad investments as they havn’t been reissued in a long while, but I can’t say they are a good build.

5.5 – Poor

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